We would like to thank the parliamentary standing committee on public undertakings for finally taking to task the chief of the Dhaka Water Supply and Sewerage Authority (DWASA). The utility service provider has been under scrutiny for repeated failures to address the problems of waterlogging in the city, as well as failing miserably to supply drinkable water to the city residents. The sheer magnitude of the problem was driven home by a report by the Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB) in April that stated that 91 percent of DWASA subscribers had to boil the supply water to make it drinkable, which was also responsible for burning natural gas worth Tk 332 crore a year.
Although the utility service company challenged the report, the managing director (MD) refused to drink a lemon sherbet made with water straight from the pipe by a resident of Jurain area, after the MD had gone on record to state that water was perfectly safe for human consumption. Such theatrics were not lost on the city residents or the parliamentary standing committee members, who quizzed the MD on the endless complaints they have been receiving from their respective constituents who live in the city.
Although the MD has assured the committee that the service authority is working to improve poor infrastructure that carries water to city residents, what assurance do we have that it will be safe for city residents by 2021? In the absence of checks and balances, it is normal to be sceptical about such “assurances”, and the time has surely come to set targets for DWASA to deliver on what it has promised. Without ensuring accountability, there is little possibility that the service provider will turn over a new leaf and that is an unacceptable situation for the millions of city residents.